With both charm and humor, Daniel Taylor, guest speaker for Spiritual Renewal Week, entertained the John Brown University student body with visuals and challenged them with a message that questioned their worldview.
“I thought he was funny and entertaining,” said sophomore Jordan Cox. “It wasn’t anything that I have ever heard before. It was not a typical JBU chapel.”
Taylor’s speech started with his thesis, that he would explain the history of human thought and if it is possible to believe in God in the 21st century. At this daunting task, the student body chuckled.
Taylor explained pre-modern, modern and post-modern thought by using four children’s books as illustrations: “The Grasshopper and the Ant,” “The Golden Egg,” “Harold and The Purple Crayon” and “Going on a Bear Hunt.”
“You’re a very visual generation. I’m trying to be as hip as possible,” said Taylor.
Through these whimsical children’s stories, Taylor described pre-modern thought as emphasizing security, modern thought as emphasizing certainty and post-modern thought as emphasizing fulfillment.
Taylor confessed that he identifies with all of these thought processes.
“I have one foot in each of the examples, which conveniently gives me three feet,” said Taylor.
“Going on the Bear Hunt” exemplifies this idea further. In this kid’s story, the characters join in community, go through obstacles, look for something real and risk the possibility of failure and hunger for truth, said Taylor.
Taylor’s use of stories came about after writing “Letters to My Children,” a compilation of how and what Taylor thought about in his life.
“Every time I wanted to talk about a value, I used a story,” said Taylor. “Stories provide a way for people to make sense of the world in a natural way.”
Stories and novels are like our lives, and each person is called as a character said Taylor.
“He kept us involved and attentive using something as simple as a children’s book,” said freshman Blake Paterson. “It is a good way to transition into what he was thinking.”
God also uses stories to reveal himself into the world. This collection is in the Bible, said Taylor.
Paterson further points out that Taylor did not use a lot of scripture in his speech. It flowed more like an example on how to live instead of the Christian faith, said Paterson.
In chapel today, Taylor will talk about his most recent published book, “The Skeptical Believer.” Started in 1999, this book gives an in-depth study into the skepticism and doubt that permeates people’s mind.
“Doubt is a requirement of faith,” said Taylor. “If you’re certain about something you don’t have faith.”
Taylor furthers explains that there are healthy and unhealthy versions of doubt. On the one hand, it is investigating and understanding that it is bigger than mind. On the other hand, there is paralysis, said Taylor.
As a young adult, Taylor himself was a skeptic and often silenced the voice. He replaced it with sensible arguments. Coming to terms with his doubt and realizing others experienced it led Taylor to find a life of faith accompanied by his questions.
For those in doubt, Taylor recommends staying in the Christian community and participating in acts of faith.
“Faith is better thought of as a story than an argument of proof or a story to solve,” said Taylor.